Regardless of whether your cat is picky in eating or a little pimply, it will probably let you know how you feel about what you put in her bowl.
“Cats value food very highly, and many of their feed preferences are formed in the first year of life,” says Julie A. Churchill, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Nutrition at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine in St. Paul. So if your cat is a kitten, now is the time to get used to different types of food – wet, dry and semi-dry.
But even if your pet is older, there are still ways to provide it with all the nutrients necessary for health. Start by learning more about what you buy and what your cat needs.
Choose a balanced meal
All cat owners should know how to read the label on cat food, said Richard Hill, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
With so much advertising, people tend to focus on the ingredients, but nutrients are more important, namely protein and fat,” he says.
It’s fashionable to beat grains and carbohydrates in pet food, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing, says Churchill. In addition, food made only from protein and fat becomes expensive. “Carbohydrates can be valuable to keep dry food and make it more affordable, and many cats like this crunch.” As long as carbohydrates in the amount that cats can handle, that’s fine.”
How do I know if my cat’s food is balanced? Look for the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement on the package.
“It will be indicated that the food is complete and balanced, either through a feeding test or because the recipe meets the nutritional needs of cats,” explains Hill. If the food has this distinction, it is not necessary to give your kitten additional vitamins or supplements: the food has everything it needs.
How much, how often?
Most cats eat their main meal at dawn and dusk, once they would normally hunt and catch prey within the wild, so these are often the simplest times to feed them.
How many calories your cat should consume in a bowl depends on her age, size and amount of activity, but averages about 200 calories a day. It’s best to ask your veterinary team to help you calculate your cat’s needs. ‘Pay careful attention to the calorie count of all the food you give your cat, ‘ says Churchill. The number of calories in different foods can vary widely. “
If you put food outside, the cat will also eat during the day, but pay attention. They don’t make a good judgment about how much they should eat.
“Overfeeding is an epidemic, ” Churchill said. When cats gain too much weight, they develop problems such as joint disease, heart disease, and diabetes.
Veterinarians say it’s best to feed your cat at certain meal times and put it away at other times.
If your cat prefers to chase rather than spend more on it, it might be most helpful to switch to a less calorie-lower food than to reduce the amount, Hill said. The problem with restricting food is that it can cause cats to become stingy. “
What about a snack? Occasional release of them is ok, but don’t overdo them. They should not exceed 5% to 10% of the daily calories of cats.
Vegetarian cats? Home-made food?
Vegetarian or vegan diets may be a healthy choice for you, but they are a bad idea for your cat. Unlike dogs and humans, cats need specific vitamins, minerals and proteins that come from meat only.
But not raw meat. It may be part of the life of big cats in the wild, but it’s not natural for domestic cats, Hill says. In nature, they eat all the animals or birds they catch, not just the meat. Meat alone will be deficient in vitamins, minerals and amino acids.”
In addition, bacteria found on raw meat, such as salmonella and E. coli, can make your cat (and you) very ill.
Why don’t you prepare your own cat food at home? Churchill says that if you decide to go down this path, you shouldn’t do it alone. “I strongly recommend that you call a veterinary nutritionist to help you.” Cats weigh only 8 to 10 pounds, and changing an ingredient can change the entire nutritional value of the diet.”
Generally speaking, most experts say that commercial cat food is the best choice.
The advantage of commercial food is that it’s specially prepared for cats, so it’s complete and balanced, and it meets their needs, so you don’t have to worry. Churchill said.